Saturday the 26th of July was the launch of ‘KWASANG’ in the UK and Southern Ireland. For those who dont know what that means…i’m not sure myself but i think it should be something like the kwara state association of Nigeria…we Nigerians just love long titles! To elaborate further, Kwara is one of the states in Nigeria, it also happens to be where I’m from. Its serene, neat and home to one of the toughest and most dirty forms of politics in the country. It also happens to be where i spent the better part of my adolescence…I had sooooo much fun there!!! So thats my mini intro…i’ll tell you more later.
Anyways, saturday was a busy and happy day for Kwarans in London, I actually thought it was gonna be some casual event or something but to my surprise, it turned out to be a really big ceremony and well attended too. The Holiday inn at Russel Square was the place to be and the day began with a business workshop which was well organised and had an impressive turn out. It also provided a good platform for kwarans both home and abroad to network and share ideas on business opportunities within the state which i think was a very good initiative. The main event which was the unveling of the association was billed for the evening after the workshop and was formally launched by the governor; Dr Bukola saraki who came with most of the senior members of his cabinet and reprsentatives of each local government in the state. I dont know if all that was really necessary but thats what we call ‘ifa’ in Nigeria (meaning; free things or trips). While i’m all for the launching of the association, I’m not entirely sure that it was necessary for all the commisioners and other members of the government to have made the trip. Tickets cost money for Gods sake, not to mention the costs of their 3 or 2 day stay at the hotel….money that could have been used to fund some projects in the not so developed areas of the state (i know my own town could use some of that money for water, education and electricity!!!). Not to be selfish now, other towns as well could have benefitted from those funds instead of using it to sponsor some individuals whose impact i couldnt fathom throughout the event, except that they were able to visit London at the expense of tax payers. You know all these Ilorin women/ you can never miss them anywhere in the world! I dont even know how they got on the plane…..with their big head scarves over their head ties and their lousy voices. Damn, it was annoying watching them…..they seemed so out of place,nosying about, doing nothing worthwhile and for a moment when some of the guests who were not kwarans made the observation and likened it to our notorious trademarks back at home…..i was almost tempted to say i wasn’t from Kwara when someone asked if i was.
To be honest, I’ve been tempted a lot of times over the years to deny my state but my pride and sense of patritotism wont let me…first, it might sound silly but i dont like the sound of the name ‘kwara’…i mean who thought of that??? when there are funky names like Osun or even Ogun atleast, those have meanings (i love Ogun state by the way) they are such lively people!. Then, I totally hate the name of my town ‘Omupo'(more like village cos its sooooo small, probably because its indigenes have refused to go back home), i mean??? for Gods sake, It doesnt even have a meaning…and what does kwara mean as well? So you can imagine my dilemma when i’m asked which state i’m from and i have to go oh…kwara….(with a lot of enthusiasm) and then…the most dreaded question…where in Kwara? (why are people so nosy?) then i go…Omupo….the response is always the same……a loud resounding WHAT? most times..the really forward ones would probably answer the question themselves anyway by assuming that everyone from kwara is from Ilorin or Offa (the two most popular towns in the state), so i just let them…..When i become a senator or something representing my state (syking myself abeg), first thing I’ll do is change the name of my dear town to something more …i dont know…something you can call and identify with and be proud of….and then a total rebranding of our image…first things first…education…oh, that luxury that so eludes my people! I’ve got big dreams for my town o…but this is neither the time nor place to express it.
Anyways, saturday’s event wouldnt have been complete without the usual melodrama that accompanies Nigerian events….It started 3 good hours behind schedule (in their defence, the hotel didnt prepare the hall early enough), the hall wasn’t big enough to accomodate all the guests (probably due to a phenomenon we call…’mo gbo mo ya’ in Nigeria, where guests show up at an event un-invited), the ilorin women true to form harrased the poor hostesses (one of which i was) over take away packs that they themselves brought from Nigeria for indigenes living in london (Ilorin women/Kwara women are always after take aways at any event. you can easily see them shoving food and whatever else they can get into black carrier bags and fighting over left overs if they have to. This is mainly amongst the un-educated old women though).
We appreciate the take away packs (mostly consisting of a CD briefly explaining the various projects the government has been doing, a T-shirt i doubt most people will fit in cos its too big, a 2008 calender (u kiddin?…its July already!), some magazines etc etc. Honestly, all that was just a waste…..no one’s gonna wear the t-shirt in London, i tried to watch the CD but with 5 year olds in the house…that was impossible plus all i saw were some people praising the administration’s effort (probably members of the government)…what else is new? I think..all the current happenings could have been covered in the workshop and/or formed part of some speech made by the governor….all the money wasting is just a part of us and it really must stop…..we need this money for more important things……teachers salaries for instance…i think all teachers in state schools are grossly underpaid. When i was still in Ilorin, there was not one area that had pipeborne water ( we were lucky enough at the uni to be blessed with it for a few hours everyday!), I think the roads are good…but i’m sure a little maintenance wont hurt…last i remember, the stadium was a state…..i hope something has been done about that….most importantly though……i still think there’s a lot of work to be done in those villages and towns that have probably been forgotten…..they deserve a life too.
All in all, I do love my state (ugly name and all its issues)…its a lovely place to live…the weather’s fantastic….cold at the appropriate time of the year and just hot enough(ok maybe a tad too hot sometimes) but its still amazing…..things aren’t too expensive, there isn’t the usual hustle and bustle of Lagos and its the perfect place to relax and have the best fun in the world. I remember i used to love sitting by the waterfront at a place called ‘waterview’, reading or having a drink with friends, i remember being able to flag a cabbie wherever whenever (something that cant happen in lagos), i remember the ‘pomo’ with the very hot chilli sauce at the museum (there was nothing else to do at that place…they really should think of developing tourism in the state you know), the cold harmattan nights and the gentle breeze that accompanies it, the long stretch of road that is taiwo road where we used to do most of our shopping, I remember challenge and how we used to rush for buses to uni (gee, suffer head), I like to think of kwara as my own little Seattle!…dont ask me why.